September 2, 2008
NAHJ Denounces Arrests of Working Press
Calls on Freedom of the Press to be respected
Media Contact: Iván Román, (202) 662-7178
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists calls on police and local and federal officials to respect the First Amendment right to free speech and free press of journalists doing their job, especially as it relates to coverage of recent political conventions and the surrounding public protests. Reporters have a duty and a constitutional right to be present at sometimes volatile events and situations, and to inform the public.
Following the arrest of an ABC News producer at the Democratic National Convention in Denver last week, four more journalists were arrested Monday during protests outside the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. Those arrested Monday include “Democracy Now!” radio and TV host Amy Goodman, two of the show’s producers and an Associated Press photographer. The journalists were released with charges including suspicion of felony riot, and misdemeanor interference with a peace officer. These arrests and questionable charges against working media are cause for concern.
In this era of new technology and broader participation in citizen and independent journalism, it may become increasingly difficult for police to tell journalists from those who are not. But police must be aware it is their duty to try, and to respect the role of the press in a democracy. When the media has credentials, as was the case with Goodman and other journalists arrested, the police should have a much easier job.
It is vital for police and local and national leaders to respect freedom of the press not only in courtrooms, but also on the street.
Read story about journalists' arrests from Editor & Publisher
Read story about protests from KSTP-TV
Video of Amy Goodman's arrest
Read story about arrests from Democracy Now!
Read story about last week's arrest from ABC News